High-Performance Graphene Oxide Electromechanical Actuators Academic Article uri icon


  • Having demonstrated unparalleled actuation stresses and strains, covalently bonded carbon-based nanomaterials are emerging as the actuators of the future. To exploit their full potential, further investigations into the optimum configurations of these new materials are essential. Using first-principle density functional calculations, we examine so-called clamped and unzipped graphene oxide (GO) as potential electromechanical actuator materials. Very high strains are predicted for hole injection into GO, with reversible and irreversible values of up to 6.3% and 28.2%, respectively. The huge 28% irreversible strain is shown to be the result of a change in the atomic structure of GO from a metastable clamped to more stable unzipped configuration. Significantly, this strain generation mechanism makes it possible to hold a constant strain of 23.8% upon removal of the input power, making this material ideal for long-term, low-power switching applications. A unique contraction of unzipped GO upon electron injection is also observed. It is shown that the origin of this unique behavior is the modulation of the structural rippling effect, which is a characteristic feature of GO. With reversible strains and stresses in excess of 5% and 100 GPa, respectively, GO is poised to be an extremely useful material for micro/nanoelectromechanical system actuators.

publication date

  • January 18, 2012